This chapter provides information on how educational support and guidance is organised in Finland.
The goal is to maximise the potential of every learner. Educational support and guidance covers areas such as support for learning according to the individual capacity of the learners, school attendance, pupil welfare, and guidance and counselling. Attention is also paid to supporting the learning of gifted pupils and students.
The Finnish education system has been based on the philosophy of inclusion for a long time. Basic education is the same for all. There is no streaming, but children are supported individually so that they can successfully complete their basic education. Support for learners is given at three levels: general, intensified, and special support.
Educational support is provided mainly within mainstream education, but also in special classes and special schools. In Finland municipalities are responsible for arranging education in their area. It is possible to organise educational support and special needs education in accordance with their specific local situation. Separate education for pupils with special needs follows the curricula of the mainstream education system but may have specific syllabi and timetables. These are always decided on an individual basis. The tuition should, as far as possible, correspond to that given in mainstream education.
The Constitution of Finland stipulates that no one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from others on the grounds of gender, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or any other reason. Finland has also committed to international agreements, programmes and declarations which require provision of education so as to guarantee learning for children and young people at a common school for all.
According to the Basic Education Act, education must be provided according to pupils’ capabilities so as to promote their healthy growth and development. Those providing education must cooperate with pupils’ parents or other guardians. Pupils participating in education are entitled to a safe learning environment. The Act further states that pupils are entitled to teaching that is based on the national and local curricula as well as guidance and counselling on every school day. Pupils are also entitled to receive sufficient support for growth, learning and school attendance directly as the need arises and to free pupil welfare necessary for participation in education.
The starting point for the provision of education, guidance and support is attendance to a good and safe school day. Schoolwork should be organised so that the conditions are as favourable as possible for the pupil’s well-being, development and learning. The school community should be safe, friendly and respectful in terms of atmosphere. Teachers are required to treat the children as individuals and help them to proceed according to their own capabilities. Pupils should also experience success and joy of learning. Basic education promotes encouraging interaction, cooperation, joint responsibility and involvement. Special attention is paid to pupils’ opportunities to influence their own work and the learning environment.
A collaborative, supportive school forms an appreciative school community for its members: pupils, teachers and other personnel. The school cooperates with pre-primary education and other forms of early childhood education and care, morning and afternoon activities, other schools providing basic education, educational institutions offering further studies, health care and social services, as well as other parties involved in supporting children’s growth and development.